Healthy foods: amaranth

Healthy foods: amaranth

What is it? Amaranth is a type of whole grain that grows from a tall, richly coloured stalk from which sprout thousands of tiny, lens-shaped seeds. The grain thrived during the time of the ancient Aztecs, becoming a domestic food staple around the same time as maize, beans, and gourds.

What is it good for? Each wee grain of amaranth is chock-full of nutritional benefits. In addition to having many other vitamins and minerals, one cup of uncooked amaranth holds in it 82% of the daily recommended intake of iron and over a third of the recommended calcium. Once it is cooked, you will lose some of those nutrients, but you will still consume a good helping of each. In that one cup of cooked amaranth grain, you will also benefit from 5 grams of fibre and 9 grams of protein, and only 251 calories and 4 grams of fat. Amaranth is a safe food option for those following a gluten-free diet.

What does it taste like? Peppery, vibrant amaranth can find a delicious spot in many types of recipes. Ground into flour, amaranth grain can be added to bread, granola, cereals, and cookies. In flake form, amaranth can be eaten like oatmeal or porridge. And in South America, amaranth is popped like popcorn and sold by street vendors. Store amaranth in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry, dark spot.

Amy Toffelmire


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